15 Incredible Places on Earth That Are Frozen in Time

Post 8921

15 Incredible Places on Earth That Are Frozen in Time

By Stephanie Pappas November 07, 2018

Where time stands still

(Image credit: Chao-Wei Juan/Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0)

There are places in this world that never stop changing, like Rome — built on the ruins and debris of its previous iterations — or New York, with its ever-rising skyline.

And then there are places where time stands still. Whether frozen in time by natural disaster or simply left behind because no one cared to stay, these spots stand virtually undisturbed, encapsulating a moment of the past.


(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The ancient city of Pompeii was arrested in time in A.D. 79 by Mount Vesuvius. The volcano buried the town and any inhabitants who could not evacuate in a thick layer of volcanic ash. The bodies of the dead decomposed, leaving behind voids in the ash that archaeologists later filled with plaster and excavated, resulting in the eerie death casts that made Pompeii famous. But the volcano preserved other things too, from advanced plumbing facilities to colorful carved frescos and graffiti. Excavations have revealed the nitty-gritty details of life in A.D. 79, including at-home first aid equipment and tiny barbecues that probably cooked quick, casual meals.

Two Guns, Arizona

(Image credit: Thomas Hawk/Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0)

Among the American West’s weirder ghost towns is Two Guns, an abandoned roadside attraction. According to Atlas Obscura, Two Guns was nothing but a few scattered homesteads until the early 1920s, when it became a travel stop on what would morph into the famous Route 66. An eccentric entrepreneur named Harry Miller leased the site, building a mini-zoo and fake Native American ruins. Exploiting the late 19th-century deaths of a group of Apache warriors killed during a battle with the Navajo people, Miller gave tours of the cave where they died and even sold skulls he said were from those Apache. Miller later shot the landowner who leased him the land, but was acquitted. In 1929, after a fire and a legal battle over the land ownership, Miller left. Route 66 soon left too, rerouted across the canyon. Two Guns changed hands a few times before burning down again in 1971. Today, only a few stone buildings and part of the old zoo’s mountain lion enclosure remain.

Salton Riviera, California

(Image credit: David McNew/Getty)

When the Salton Sea formed, quite by accident in 1905, people called it a miracle. Thanks to an irrigation accident, water from the Colorado River filled a formerly dry lakebed in southeastern California. The resulting lake, the Salton Sea, became a resort attraction (it’s still a state recreation area today).

Within a few decades, though, the disaster of the Salton Sea became apparent. With no outlet, the lake concentrated both salt and agricultural runoff, turning it into a stinking environmental disaster, complete with piles of dead fish along the shore. Most of the buildings near the lake have been abandoned, and local authorities have agreed to let the Salton Sea wither. As of 2018, 40 percent less water is being directed into the Salton Sea than at its inception, according to The Verge, which will gradually lower the lake level by 20 feet (6 meters). As lake turns to dust, more residents may flee, according to The Verge; the air in the Imperial Valley is among the worst in the country.

Hashima Island, Japan

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Once the site of a major coal-mining operation and home to more than 5,000 people, Japan’s Hashima Island is now heavily built up — but empty. The island is a mere 16 acres (6.3 hectares) in area and is almost entirely covered by the marks of humanity: a seawall, multi-story buildings and an abandoned shrine. The island was abandoned in 1974 after all its coal was depleted. In 2009, it opened to tourism, and, in 2015, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you can’t get there in person, you can tour the island in great detail via Google Earth.

Pripyat, Ukraine

(Image credit: Sean Gallup/Getty)

It was a bit like a modern Pompeii. On April 26, 1986, an explosion at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant caused the release of 5 percent of the reactor’s radioactive core. According to the World Nuclear Association, 28 people perished in the following weeks because of acute radiation sickness. In the nearby town of Pripyat, 45,000 people had to leave overnight; ultimately, more than 220,000 people would have to evacuate the contaminated zone around the plant.

The buildings left behind are full of shattered glass and abandoned furniture. An abandoned Ferris wheel sits by a long-unused merry-go-round. Nature has reclaimed the catastrophe zone, with wolves, moose and wild boar roaming where humans used to bustle.  

Kolmanskop, Namiba

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The bone-dry Namib Desert is a hard place for life to survive. The town of Kolmanskop didn’t manage to.

Founded in the early 1900s after diamonds were discovered in the region, Kolmanskop was built by the Germans who controlled what is now Namibia at the time. The architecture is oddly Teutonic, with arched windows and wrought-iron railings. According to the now-ghost-town’s website, residents survived thanks to water trucked in from 75 miles (120 kilometers) away. By the 1920s, the diamond mines were drying up and new deposits were found elsewhere. The town shrank rapidly, and it was finally abandoned for good in 1956.

Sanzhi UFO Houses

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 4Y5XQzDXfZrPMejG9QwLja-650-80.jpg.webp
(Image credit: Chao-Wei Juan/Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0)

The Sanzhi UFO Houses were a row of oddly shaped pod-like buildings put up in the late 1970s as a resort on the northern tip of Taiwan. The two-story pod-buildings were never finished, but they were painted a cheery pink and yellow, making them look as though some friendly futuristic extraterrestrial had just dashed down to the store for a cup of sugar and might be back at any minute. These odd ghost buildings wouldn’t last forever, though; they were demolished in 2010 to make way for new development.

Deception Island, Antarctica

(Image credit: Ville Miettinen/Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0)

Can something qualify as a ghost town if it’s on a largely uninhabited continent? Deception Island might. This outpost in Antarctica has been a whaling station and the site of several scientific labs, but it’s also the caldera of an active volcano. In 1967 and 1969, that volcano erupted, destroying the British and Chilean scientific stations that were active at the time. According to Atlas Obscura, the island is now visited by the occasional seasonal science team and by tourists who enjoy views of the place’s deserted airplane hangar and rusting boilers and tanks.

Craco, Italy

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Located in the “instep” of Italy’s boot, the village of Craco dates to A.D. 1060 (though monks and earlier settlers lived in this rugged region prior to that time). Throughout the Middle Ages, about 1,500 people lived in Craco at any given time. It had four plazas, multiple churches, and, by the 1800s, it was big enough to be split into two districts, according to the local historical society.

But Italy is a seismically active place, and the slopes where Craco was built are steep and unstable. In the mid-1900s, earthquakes and landslides damaged the town. In 1963, the last residents left, relocated to another village nearby. Today, the abandoned town is a historical site and tourist attraction.

Oradour-sur-Glane, France

Image credit: Shutterstock

A tragic casualty of World War II, Oradour-sur-Glane was destroyed by the Waffen SS in 1944. It was a horrific atrocity. On June 10 of that year, Nazi forces entered the village and rounded up its citizenry on the pretense of doing identity checks. Instead, they separated the village’s men from its women and children and began to massacre them. They killed 642 men, women and children, then set the village on fire. Only a handful of people survived.

After the war, France decided to leave the village as it was in memory of the massacre. A Centre de la Mémoire stands at the sight to guide visitors through the abandoned buildings and execution sites. The village crypt contains artifacts like watches and clocks stopped at the time of the fires.

Bodie, California

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

California’s Gold Rush brought an influx of settlers hoping to strike it rich in gold. These settlers built boomtowns almost overnight — and abandoned them just as quickly when the gold veins tapped out.

Bodie, California, is one of those towns. Gold was discovered in the area near Mono Lake in 1875, according to the California Department of Parks and Recreation. The town of Bodie sprung up to house the miners working the vein. Since 1962, the former mine town has been a designated National Historic Site and a state park, left as it was when the last residents moved on.

Mandu, India

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Mandu, in Madhya Pradesh, India, is a preserved town that dates to at least the sixth century A.D. It’s known for its lavish architecture, including India’s biggest fort and a massive palace constructed in 1508 and named for Baz Bahadur, who ruled Mandu from 1555 to 1562. According to legend, Bahadur fell in love with a singing shepherdess named Roopmati, whom he made his queen. But a Mogul army invaded Mandu, taking the city and kidnapping Roopmati. She is said to have poisoned herself to avoid the attention of the Mogul general.

Today, visitors can see temples, tombs and multiple palaces built in Mandu over the centuries. Perhaps the most famous is the Jahaz Mahal, or Ship Palace, which is built between two artificial lakes so that it seems to float.

Angkor, Cambodia

(Image credit: Ian Walton/Getty)

Another ancient-site-turned-tourist-destination, Angkor Wat is one of the largest temples ever built. It was constructed between about A.D. 1113 and 1150 as a Hindu temple, and was later converted into a Buddhist temple. The city surrounding Angkor Wat, Angkor, may have once been home to a million people.

Angkor is no longer a metropolis, but a UNESCO World Heritage site that archaeologists and conservationists are trying to save from encroaching jungle and damage by modern tourists. More than 100,000 people still live in the shadow of the temple, many living an agrarian lifestyle like the generations that came before them.

Tyneham, England

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

In 1943, the British government asked residents of Tyneham, England, to make a major sacrifice for the war effort: leave their homes. The villagers had a month’s notice, the BBC reported, before the village and its surroundings were taken over as a tank firing range in advance of D-Day, the day in 1944 when Allied forces invaded northern France at Normandy and ultimately liberated France from Nazi occupation.

Tyneham residents, all 225 of them, were told they’d get to return to their village after the war, but the government ended up keeping the land for military training. The village has been empty since and is now in ruins. Stone and brick buildings stand quietly, their roofs and windows long-gone. Visitors are allowed in on weekends, and the old church has been reopened. It’s used for occasional concerts and special services.

Humberstone, Chile

Image credit: Shutterstock)

In the late 1800s, Chile experienced a rush not on gold, but on salt. Entrepreneurs and miners high-tailed it to the Atacama Desert, which is rich in potassium nitrate, or saltpeter. A major ingredient in agricultural fertilizers, saltpeter made up 80 percent of Chilean exports in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, according to the BBC.

One of the mining towns that sprung up in this saltpeter rush was Humberstone, founded in 1872. It was once home to more than 3,000 people, mainly saltpeter diggers and refiners and their families. But during World War I, Allied powers blocked Germany from importing saltpeter, and the Germans developed synthetic fertilizers in response. Saltpeter lost its value. Humberstone became a ghost town. The dry desert air has kept the rot away, and many of the town’s buildings stand just as they did a century ago. 

25 Cultures That Practiced Human Sacrifice

Post 8904

25 Cultures That Practiced Human Sacrifice

Decapitated, kneeling skeleton found in a pit in China linked to ancient ritual sacrifice

Post 8903

Decapitated, kneeling skeleton found in a pit in China linked to ancient ritual sacrifice

Flying Saucers to Mind Control: 22 Declassified Military & CIA Secrets


Flying Saucers to Mind Control: 22 Declassified Military & CIA Secrets

Operation Crossroads

The "Baker" explosion, part of Operation Crossroads, a nuclear weapon test by the United States military at Bikini Atoll, Micronesia, on 25 July 1946.

The “Baker” explosion, part of Operation Crossroads, a nuclear weapon test by the United States military at Bikini Atoll, Micronesia, on 25 July 1946. (Image credit: Public Domain)

In July 2016, the National Security Archive posted declassified documents, films and photographs that show U.S. tests of atomic bombs in the Bikini Atoll in 1946. Dubbed Operation Crossroads, the tests marked the first atomic explosions since the bombings of Japan during World War II in August 1945. [In Photos: Dive to USS Independence Wreck]

While much is publicly known about the tests, the declassified documents shed new light on how the tests affected people of Bikini Atoll, who were forced to relocate. They also offer a view of the objections raised by scientists and military officials before the bombings, as well as the rationale behind the decision to carry out the tests despite these obj

Doctor Zhivago

During the Cold War, the CIA played a role in distributing the book "Doctor Zhivago" throughout the Soviet Union.

During the Cold War, the CIA played a role in distributing the book “Doctor Zhivago” throughout the Soviet Union. (Image credit: Central Intelligence Agency)

During the Cold War, the CIA played a role in distributing the book “Doctor Zhivago” throughout the Soviet Union. The book by Russian writer Boris Pasternak was banned by the Soviets, according to a Washington Post article, because it displayed an open-minded view of the Bolshevik Revolution and its protagonist, a doctor-poet, was staunchly individualistic.

Seeing the book’s potential as a propaganda tool, the CIA worked with its allies in Dutch Intelligence to deliver about 1,000 copies of the book into Soviet hands, according to documents declassified in 2014. The books were distributed to visiting Soviets at the World’s Fair in Brussels in 1958 with help from the Vatican, according to the National Security Archive.

Bound in unmarked blue linen and wrapped in brown paper, the books made their way into the Soviet Union, where the CIA hoped they would stir up anti-communist sentiment among disgruntled citizens. The CIA also smuggled other banned books into the Soviet Union, including James Joyce’s “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” and Vladimir Nabokov’s “Pnin.”




Image Gallery: Female Egyptian Mummy Discovered

Post 8885

Image Gallery: Female Egyptian Mummy Discovered

Mummy of ancient Egyptian teenager, buried in fine jewelry, discovered in Luxor

Post 8884

Mummy of ancient Egyptian teenager, buried in fine jewelry, discovered in Luxor

Beyond Wonder Woman: 12 Mighty Female Warriors

Post 8883

Beyond Wonder Woman: 12 Mighty Female Warriors

Two ‘warrior women’ from ancient Mongolia may have helped inspire the Ballad of Mulan

Post 8882

Two ‘warrior women’ from ancient Mongolia may have helped inspire the Ballad of Mulan

Nazi diary reveals secret location of WWII treasure under a palace in Poland

Post 8881

Nazi diary reveals secret location of WWII treasure under a palace in Poland

7 Lost Burial Sites

Post 8786

Updated:Aug 31, 2018Original:Jul 22, 2015

7 Lost Burial Sites


From Genghis Khan to Alexander the Great, get the facts on seven historical titans whose final resting places are unaccounted for.

1. Genghis Khan

The Mongol leader conquered more territory than any person in history, yet very little is known about what he looked like, how he died or even where he is buried. Legend has it that upon his death in 1227, the Great Khan’s soldiers honored his request to keep his gravesite a secret by butchering anyone who saw his funeral procession. They then ensured their own silence by killing themselves. Another account has the men concealing the grave by trampling it with 10,000 horses, and still another claims they diverted a river over it to protect it from robbery and desecration. Genghis Khan’s final resting place has since become one of the most sought after prizes in archaeology. Researchers suspect it may be located in Mongolia’s Khentii Province, but despite looking for it with everything from ground penetrating radar to satellite images, no team has yet to strike pay dirt.

Image placeholder title

2. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

wolfgang amadeus mozart

A portrait of Mozart shortly before his death. (Credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

When the wunderkind composer died from a mysterious illness in 1791, his body was placed in a wooden coffin and interred in an unmarked common grave in Vienna’s St. Marx cemetery. There it lay for several years until the early 19th century, when—in accordance with the practices of the time—it was dug up and most likely dispersed or crushed to make room for new burials. Its location in the cemetery has since been lost. A potential piece of Mozart’s body later resurfaced courtesy of a St. Marx gravedigger, who claimed he recovered the composer’s skull in 1801 after marking it with metal wire when it was first buried. The skull was given to Salzburg’s International Mozarteum Foundation in 1902, but DNA analyses have thus far been unable to prove whether it actually belonged to Mozart.

3. Cleopatra

Image placeholder title

Shortly after Augustus and his Roman legions invaded Egypt in 30 B.C., the enigmatic Queen of the Nile is said to have taken her own life by poisoning—possibly with a bite from an asp. Her suicide closely followed that of her paramour, Mark Antony, and the ancient chronicler Plutarch writes that the two star crossed lovers were then laid to rest “in splendid and regal fashion” in a tomb near Alexandria. The story trails off from there, however, leaving archeologists with a Sphinx-sized riddle. Some believe the mausoleum ended up at the bottom of the sea after fourth and eighth century earthquakes changed the topography of Alexandria, while others claim the couple may be buried near Taposiris Magna, an ancient temple that has yielded dozens of tombs and mummies.

4. Thomas Paine

thomas paine

Credit: DeAgostini/Getty Images
During the heady days of the 1770s, writer and pamphleteer Thomas Paine helped sound the call to arms for the American Revolution in such works as “Common Sense” and “The American Crisis.” Though once considered a hero, he was later denounced for attacking the church in his book “The Age of Reason,” and only a handful of people attended his burial when died in 1809. The indignities only mounted a decade later, when a man named William Cobbett exhumed Paine’s corpse and shipped it to his native England, where it was believed it would be honored with a memorial. Cobbett was unable to drum up interest in a Paine monument, however, and the remains supposedly spent the next several years gathering dust in his attic. Some accounts say the great thinker’s bones were later thrown in the garbage or even recycled into buttons, but they may have also been auctioned off piecemeal. Since the 19th century, different collectors have claimed to possess Paine’s skull, his hand and his jawbone.

5. Attila the Hun

attila the hun

Credit: Palais Bourbon/Wikimedia Commons

The Hunnic raider known as the “Scourge of God” suffered a famously anticlimactic death in 453 A.D., when he supposedly passed out drunk on his wedding night—one of many that he enjoyed—and choked from a nosebleed. Attila’s warriors honored their barbarian chief with a day of grief and funeral games before burying him in a trio of coffins—one of gold, one of silver and one of iron. As in the case of Genghis Khan, the ceremony was conducted in secret, and the unfortunate prisoners who dug the plot were killed to deter grave robbery. Whether the safety measures actually worked is a matter of debate. While the grave is widely believed to be located somewhere in Hungary, no trace of Attila or his priceless triple coffin has ever been found, suggesting the site may have been looted in the years after his death.

6. Sir Francis Drake

Plaque depicting Drake being buried at sea.

Plaque depicting Drake being buried at sea.
Queen Elizabeth I’s favorite privateer met his end in Panama in 1596, having spent the previous two decades harassing Spanish holdings in the New World and undertaking a circumnavigation of the globe. After his death, Drake was dressed in his armor, sealed inside a lead coffin and given a traditional burial at sea some 14 miles off the coast of Portobelo. His remains have since been lost in the Caribbean, but that hasn’t stopped scores of divers, archaeologists and treasure hunters from seeking them out. A rare breakthrough came in 2011, when a mission financed by American entrepreneur Pat Croce found what is believed to be the wreck of two of Drake’s scuttled ships. The team also searched in vain for the navigator’s coffin, but the precise location of his 400-year-old watery grave remains a mystery.

7. Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great

Credit: DEA/G Nimattallah/De Agostini/Getty Images
Alexander died in Babylon in 323 B.C., having led his Macedonian armies on a decade-long campaign of conquest from Greece to India. In keeping with his famously immodest moniker, the deceased warrior-king was placed in a gold sarcophagus and coffin and eventually taken to a tomb in Alexandria. His body was moved to a mausoleum a few years later, where it became something of an ancient tourist attraction. Julius Caesar and Augustus both paid their respects, and Caligula supposedly looted Alexander’s armored breastplate during a visit in the 1st century A.D. The Roman Emperor Septimus Severus finally had the tomb sealed off for good sometime around the year 199. The trail goes cold from there, and some 150 search expeditions have failed to pick it up. Most researchers believe Alexander’s grave is still lurking somewhere in Alexandria, but others argue that it may have been moved to Venice, Greece or some other location in Egypt.

By Evan Andrews